Westfield Warrawong's smash-and-grab raider jailed

An Illawarra man has been jailed for at least 18 months over two unsuccessful attempts to steal money from Warrawong businesses while high on drugs.

Tamahere Daniel Kakahi, 24, admitted he was "off his head" on a cocktail of alcohol, methamphetamine and cannabis when he and three youths smashed their way into Westfield Warrawong at dawn on June 22 last year and made their way to the nearby Gloria Jeans coffee kiosk.

Using a metre-long metal pole, Kakahi tried to remove a safe bolted to the floor of the shop but was unable to do so.

He and the youths fled when they were spotted by security staff.

Less than an hour later, Kakahi entered a newsagency in Cowper Street, this time armed with a baseball bat, and demanded money.

When the shop attendants told him they had none, and also pointed out his actions were being recorded on CCTV cameras, Kakahi fled from the store, smashing the glass top of a scratchie dispenser on the way out.

Police called to investigate both crimes tracked down one of Kakahi's accomplices in Kemblawarra about 2pm that day.

Just minutes later, officers arrived at Kakahi's house in Warrawong. He was discovered hiding under a blanket on the lounge.

In Wollongong District Court on Thursday, Kakahi was sentenced to a total prison term of 3½ years, with a non-parole period of 18 months.

The court heard Kakahi had a significant drug problem from an early age, having begun drinking at 14, smoking cannabis and taking methamphetamine and ecstasy at 16, and ice at 19.

In an interview with a probation officer, he said of his ice addiction: "Ice is the only way to feel good, it makes me feel good about myself".

The court heard Kakahi had tried several rehabilitation programs but had failed to stick at them, however, he hoped to get into an intensive treatment program run at the John Maroney prison in Sydney's north-west.

Judge Paul Conlon accepted that Kakahi's upbringing had been "a critical factor" in his descent into drug use from a young age.

He also accepted that Kakahi's remorse over his actions was genuine. Kakahi will be eligible for parole in June next year.

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